Published Articles

  1. Welgevonden – Well-Found and Well-Founded. June 25, 2019 - ‘You’ve been living in the bush for a long time; you must know how to tell when a zebra is sick.’ Lazarus, our Makweti ranger, is taunting me. I have to admit that I don’t – but this is what is so refreshing about the lodges of the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve. The rangers and … Continue reading Welgevonden – Well-Found and Well-Founded.
  2. The Leopard and the Aardvark May 10, 2019 - ‘Lunch was a good tuna-fish roll with very average salads, on a deck with a huge tree growing through it. Then we went to our rondavel – a round room with a shower tacked on and gas lights. Perfectly adequate and nice hard beds … Dinner was an impala kebab followed by impala steak or … Continue reading The Leopard and the Aardvark
  3. Visiting Cape Town, the Mother Ship. March 25, 2019 - The extra-terrestrial experience begins with a five-minute check-in and a stonking breakfast at Lanseria airport. Never again, I promise myself, will I unnecessarily go through the horrors of OR Tambo. Two hours later, the Mother City. Or as it turns out, the Mother Ship. To a Lowvelder, it is undeniable. Cape Town is another world. … Continue reading Visiting Cape Town, the Mother Ship.
  4. SWAT a Nuisance September 7, 2017 - Call me a Philistine but, after nine days, I was Pharaoh-ed out, tomb-ed out, hyroglyph-ed out, Egyptian-ed out; instead I amused myself with some birding from the open deck of the Nile Cruiser, surrounded by flappy-stomached Brits baking in the spring sunshine. The boat was also surrounded – four police launches, manned with blue-bereted, green-jerseyed, … Continue reading SWAT a Nuisance
  5. South Africans know it is good to be home October 30, 2016 - She looked at me as if she might collapse and weep. “There was a fire in the camp site and they lost three huts. An old lady threw out some embers, the wind caught them and set alight to the bush all around. The people were so upset for us.” Naturally the locals were distraught … Continue reading South Africans know it is good to be home
  6. A Kingdom of Discovery June 19, 2016 - “We just wish we had arranged to stay longer. This is the best secret we have ever unearthed.” The departing couple walked, disconsolate, down the boardwalk towards us, binoculars still in hand, but on their reluctant way to the exit gate. “Look, there’s a pair of broad-billed rollers right here on that branch.” We could … Continue reading A Kingdom of Discovery
  7. Spilling the Beans January 31, 2016 - Put out of your mind any preconception of what Ethiopia might look like and replace it with the very opposite. That’s is the kind of country we are dealing with here. A country of contrasts, of surprises, of shattered preconceptions. Forget drab dry scenery, unhappy faces, sand and interminable droughts and replace it instead with … Continue reading Spilling the Beans
  8. Sightings in Sussex November 15, 2015 - Rambling in the English countryside is more perilous than the African bush I had never before wondered what Priscilla Presley, Marlon Brando, Leonard Nimmoy and King Hussein of Jordan might have had in common.  After all, King Hussein isn’t much of an actor. Neither is Priscilla Presley, actually. It had been an uncharacteristically warm start … Continue reading Sightings in Sussex
  9. A Road Trip through Heaven June 21, 2015 - They say ‘Don’t drive there’. Don’t listen. The cashier peers curiously at me and asks whether I am Cuban as well. As well as what, I wonder. Is everyone else here Cuban? It seems unlikely. This is Mthatha. The advice has always been the same: Don’t drive through Transkei.  They drive straight at you and … Continue reading A Road Trip through Heaven
  10. ‘Abandoned’ in France May 10, 2015 - Those who want to be hand-held through a holiday should go online before they leave home “We have a dishwasher in the tiny kitchen, but we can’t get it to work. Nobody explained it to us,” the crimson-faced Englishman bawled into his held-aloft cellphone in the WiFi-lounge-cum-games-room of our Alpine self-catering apartment block. He was … Continue reading ‘Abandoned’ in France
  11. Expect What You Pay For February 15, 2015 - Expect what you pay for … You don’t order a small saloon car from a car dealer and then demand, when you collect it, that he gives you a luxury 4×4 station wagon instead. You expect only what you ordered and paid for. You understand that, if you get it, you are not in a … Continue reading Expect What You Pay For
  12. For whom the bell tings February 9, 2015 - The constant clanging of ice-cream salesmen is only the beginning of beachside holiday hell I am not a fan of the sea. It had therefore been twenty years since my last beach holiday. For the first couple of days on the sunny coast, though, I had thought I might relent slightly. Only slightly, mind you. … Continue reading For whom the bell tings
  13. The Lucky Number February 8, 2015 - Chris Harvie finds a range of ‘fives’ at a lovely Kruger National Park Lodge “Only the Makuleke people can show you this!” Sam Japane told us, proudly. Sam is one of the Makuleke people himself and it was certainly a spectacular setting.  I was, at long last, gazing into the famed Lanner Gorge, one of … Continue reading The Lucky Number
  14. Tigers and Birds, Oh my … January 19, 2015 - Two rivers. Two countries. Two guides. Chris Harvie finds two trips equally wonder-filled. Ngepi Camp in Namibia and Tamarind Camp in Zambia are camps with personalities: Christoph Tuuyendere and Lawrence Chidakwa respectively. Two gentlemen with some very useful skills. Ngepi Camp, spectacularly sandwiched between the Bwabwata and Muhango National Parks on the River, lies at … Continue reading Tigers and Birds, Oh my …
  15. On the Cutting Edge of Tourism March 16, 2014 - A hidden sharp object and fear of discovery make for a paranoid ride “Why do you have a chainsaw in the car?” A Kruger gate-guard. It is a long story, we say, but we have no alcohol and the generator is irrelevant too. Do we look like rhino-poachers? He seems to buy that. Back on … Continue reading On the Cutting Edge of Tourism
  16. My Fair Holiday December 1, 2013 - Chris Harvie moves into a mansion away from Plett’s seaside hordes Opening the oversized front door, we step into a panelled, yellowwood-floored hall which seems to extend for ever through a sumptuous but unpretentious drawing room and then onwards again through Georgian-style sash windows and into the fynbos beyond. So my one of travelling companions … Continue reading My Fair Holiday
  17. A Bull and a China Shop October 24, 2013 - Some creatures make a big impression, some leave no trace of themselves at all “You gave us the wrong fingerprints,” the baffling woman repeated. “You must do them again.” I had come to pick up my driver’s licence from the Sabie Traffic Department. She had said it would take six weeks. Pointlessly, I had given … Continue reading A Bull and a China Shop
  18. Party Train to Pasture October 7, 2013 - Larry the Landy’s last dance was a festive affair with trompoppies and hooch Larry and I had co-travelled many tens of thousands of kilometres but we now had to finalise our impending divorce before Death itself should us part. It was heart-rending. My Land Rover was slowly giving up the ghost. I could no longer … Continue reading Party Train to Pasture
  19. Gold Reef City – The Gold Rush September 29, 2013 - The attendant looked me straight in the eye and said “She might not look very fast but if she goes any faster you will vomit.” I didn’t know how to reply. I wasn’t about to push my luck by suggesting she try me. It had already been a long day of spinning, screaming, sobbing, shouting … Continue reading Gold Reef City – The Gold Rush
  20. A Hotelier’s Lament August 20, 2013 - Chris Harvie puts his neck on the line and looks at how TripAdvisor has taken much of the joy out of hospitality to the detriment of both hosts and guests. HAVE you noticed that we hoteliers have undergone a sinister character-change? Do you see fear in our eyes? A persecuted look? Well, if you aren’t … Continue reading A Hotelier’s Lament
  21. Relieve me August 4, 2013 - Never tell a Zimbabwean you are going to Zim or you may find yourself smuggling strange goods We’d driven the pile of nappies over hill and dale, lake and mountain, gravel and pothole and through four countries. Now we had finally reached Zimbabwe and could dump them. So to speak. I’d originally agreed to carry … Continue reading Relieve me
  22. Mind your Ps in Queues June 30, 2013 - Some traffic snarl-ups can turn the most mild-mannered of us, however good the sandwich I checked the clock on the car. It was two in the morning when the Frisbee whistled past my door for the umpteenth time, letting out a loud automated wail as it flew. I lost my composure completely. The channel tunnel … Continue reading Mind your Ps in Queues
  23. The Tour de Tuli June 16, 2013 - Chris Harvie takes his padded pants on a Botswanan cycling safari It was midday when we arrived, tired, scratched, bleeding, battered and bruised. A smiling face offered chilled damp facecloths and directed us to a tableful of juice, cold drinks and water and then to a line of sturdy canvas chairs into which we slumped … Continue reading The Tour de Tuli
  24. Blagh in time May 19, 2013 - The British make a mean museum but their food is for Philistines We were the sole time-travellers in a snowy British Iron Age village, reconstructed a thousand years on, deep in the South Downs. To liven matters up, we followed a string of questions pinned around the place on poles and sealed in plastic bank … Continue reading Blagh in time
  25. Shakin’ all Over with Suzi Q May 5, 2013 - Chris Harvie braves a fading train and a failing car for a two-week escape in Kenya Not too long from now, a four-lane highway will link Cape Town and Cairo, punctuated with one-stop borders and shiny new service stations sporting motels and fast food outlets. Mercifully, that time is not yet here. It takes four … Continue reading Shakin’ all Over with Suzi Q
  26. A Bush-school Holiday March 31, 2013 - An Eco-course makes for a unique break, writes Chris Harvie The stillness of the bush is numbing – the kind of silence that you can’t listen to without suffering a mild bout of panic. A loud deathly quiet. Then, in the distance, the piercing bawl of a nagapie breaks on the air, followed by the … Continue reading A Bush-school Holiday
  27. Glory, Glory, Alleluia March 24, 2013 - Mombasa’s steaming main drag is almost certain to leave you two pawns short of a chess set We have hired a car from a firm called Glory. White, boxy, Japanese and short on brakes it is completely without suspension and is fitted with a fuel-gauge stuck just below the three quarter-mark even when the tank … Continue reading Glory, Glory, Alleluia
  28. Maputo Blues February 24, 2013 - Chris Harvie goes looking for music in Mozambique The Mozambiquan capital is well-known for its fabulous nightlife and particularly its jazz clubs, which I had never plucked up the courage to investigate. I had therefore launched a plan to indulge in the inevitable prawn fest on the Saturday evening, then head out to discover those … Continue reading Maputo Blues
  29. Who Spiked My Dinner? February 17, 2013 - Guide books should teach one to say “What the hell?” in the local lingo The campsite was clearly marked on the map and equally clearly wasn’t on the ground. Some bright spark had put in a wrong GPS position and invented a campsite on paper that would never exist on earth. Giant shade trees on … Continue reading Who Spiked My Dinner?
  30. Free State town, dead-end world January 13, 2013 - You’ve got heart of glass or a heart of stone, either way you can’t wait to go home I had breakfasted with a clergyman in George, and arrived here just after dark. The Free State town’s roads were empty, thanks to the truck strike. It was drizzling. My chosen hostelry was poetically misnamed after a … Continue reading Free State town, dead-end world
  31. Ain’t Seen Notten’s Yet January 6, 2013 - Chris Harvie gives top marks to this family-owned Lodge From the shaded wooden deck, we look out over a gentle upward slope studded with giant trees. A pair of cud-chewing buffalos lie next to a distant termite mound, vervet monkeys squabble in the trees and the chatter of starlings floats on the warm afternoon air. … Continue reading Ain’t Seen Notten’s Yet
  32. All tartanned up October 7, 2012 - Country bumpkin Chris Harvie attended a tattoo at Jozi’s Tuscan Palace, where he enjoyed the full Monte treatment. Bagpipe music skirled through the flag-decked streets of Montecasino as we made our way to the arena. Upturned faces, many pale and freckled betraying Gaelic roots, looked wistfully to the roof-painted sky, whence the call of the … Continue reading All tartanned up
  33. A load of boules September 16, 2012 - The seas around Ibo may be short of fish, but the coral is fun to play with – and there’s Rhino We were having a little trouble with the man. In his early 20s, he sported an unlikely red T-shirt, emblazoned with the name of the faraway CAFÉ DE PARIS ANNECY, and he’d obviously been … Continue reading A load of boules
  34. Just Lion Around August 12, 2012 - The writer pursues the ‘King of the Jungle’ in a less-than-co-operative Landy We were calling it the Lions Tour. By the time we reached the Serengeti we’d seen no fewer than twenty different prides in three weeks. We’d even seen a dead black-maned male lying on the roadside in Ngorongoro. He could only have been … Continue reading Just Lion Around
  35. Thank Heavens, it’s Friday August 5, 2012 - Chris Harvie goes beyond Mozambique’s beach chaos and sports bars for a true ‘Robinson Crusoe” time “Watch out – the mosquitoes come out early here,” warned manager Lloyd, squashing an example the size of a small bird between his fingers. He was right. There was something of a plague in the early evening and they … Continue reading Thank Heavens, it’s Friday
  36. Hair, There and Everywhere July 22, 2012 - Seeking a bald man in a nature reserve is like hunting a black cat in a coal cellar, as Chris Harvie discovers They told us that Eric was in charge. Nobody seemed clear whether he was French or Italian but they all agreed that he was bald and we’d never find him in the 2100 … Continue reading Hair, There and Everywhere
  37. Predators on Parade July 8, 2012 - Seeing the Big Five at MalaMala, the prince of game parks, is all but guaranteed, writes Chris Harvie There are game reserves and game reserves but MalaMala is in a class of its own. Founded in 1964 by its current owners, the reserve proudly and justifiably boasts having the best Big Five game-viewing in the … Continue reading Predators on Parade
  38. Good Neighbours May 20, 2012 - Wild horses drag Chris Harvie to Kaapschehoop – but its antique charm and easy-going vitality keep him there for a while The road from Nelspruit (Mbombela) leapt and lurched through seemingly endless steep uphill curves, leaving the Lowveld far behind in a haze of tantalising glimpses into the distant valleys around Barberton. The roadsides were … Continue reading Good Neighbours
  39. The importance of being Stoned February 26, 2012 - Driving into foreign lands, prepare for strange customs and stranger sign-posts The town goes by the lyrical name of Loitokitok and looks southwards from Kenya over the back of Tanzania’s majestic Kilimanjaro. When Kilimanjaro can be seen, that is. We weren’t here for the climb. Or for the view. A friend was building a lodge … Continue reading The importance of being Stoned
  40. For the Love of the Land February 12, 2012 - Something all owners understand: it takes patience to keep a Defender moving   We call him Larry. We don’t often name our cars, although I did once own a Fiat Uno Turbo named after Enzo Ferrari and, later, a Renault 5 called Gigi after a Parisian call-girl. Larry is neither Italian nor a prostitute but … Continue reading For the Love of the Land
  41. French Kissing in the RSA February 5, 2012 - From “love” signs at the local market to swooning over the view, Chris Harvie falls head-over-heels for Parys Wandering up the N1 on a Sunday afternoon, we were looking for the Vredefort Dome. It is 300km wide, so it shouldn’t have been hard to track down, but our first two attempts led us onto badly … Continue reading French Kissing in the RSA
  42. A Positive Outlook October 23, 2011 - Chris Harvie stops over at an oasis in the desert that’s on the way to everywhere ERIC Husing is from the United States. It is a long story, so don’t ask him about it if you are in hurry. All you need to know is that he is married to Anna, who is from Ermelo, … Continue reading A Positive Outlook
  43. A hair-raising race to Carolina March 13, 2011 - Hysterical French backpackers in a beeg ‘urry prompt a high-octane diversion. IT was all very sudden, between Nelspruit and Machadodorp on the way to Soccer City for that concert. As the Bambi Hotel loomed up ahead in half-derelict glory, a maniacal, spiky-haired backpacker leapt into the road in a manner that would have severely dinged … Continue reading A hair-raising race to Carolina
  44. Circles on a mountain February 20, 2011 - The path to proof of lives long gone is filled with thorns, ticks and dangerous terrain A FRIEND of mine is a Google Earth nerd. He doesn’t (as far as I know) use it to spy on the people he knows but he has recently taken to observing people who have been dead for hundreds … Continue reading Circles on a mountain
  45. A place to crash February 13, 2011 - Rhinos apart, there are few more peaceful places on earth than iPhika Camp in the Spioenkop Reserve IF you’ve ever wondered why the collective noun for rhino is a crash, you haven’t been for a walk in the Spioenkop Nature Reserve. The word doesn’t begin to cover the explosions that emanate as these near-dinosaurs hurtle … Continue reading A place to crash
  46. Mozambique: A Little Peek January 30, 2011 - In just five days, Chris Harvie discovers the many cheap and cheerful treasures of southern Mozambique Maputo was washing away under a deluge of rain. Rivers poured through the streets, running with litter and all manner of floating debris. The lines of new cars in the Toyota depot lay in a vast temporary lake at … Continue reading Mozambique: A Little Peek
  47. A Mosey around the Misty Midlands January 7, 2011 - In most of South Africa, we have bush. In KwaZulu-Natal, by contrast, there is countryside. It’s a fine distinction but it is a distinction nevertheless and it maybe goes some way towards explaining the quintessential Englishness of the KZN Midlands. Rolling hills, spotted with high-eaved, thatched homes. Bright-white walls. Pergolas, latticework and rambling roses. Cackling … Continue reading A Mosey around the Misty Midlands
  48. Tequila slammer December 18, 2010 - Chris Harvie tries out an eatery whose decor is as fearless as its menu THE INTRODUCTION: One of Graaff-Reinet’s many claims to fame, along with its numerous national monuments and its Pierneef Museum, is the fact that, until recently, it was the only place in the world outside Mexico to distil tequila. Of course, being … Continue reading Tequila slammer
  49. Neighbourly Love December 12, 2010 - Despite a few scares on the way to the ablution block, Chris Harvie finds Zimbabwe ready and willing for visitors Leander Starr Jameson stood on the steps of Bulawayo’s first hotel in 1874 and declared the town open. His speech – his entire speech – went like this: “It is my job to declare this … Continue reading Neighbourly Love
  50. Places of Solitude November 1, 2010 - Cederberg Trail, Western Cape Sunshine to sepia in seconds. Climb past the gently waving fynbos to sit aloft in the Cederberg, looking back down the valley into the sunset. The mountains turn their signature golden orange as the last few birds circle into their roosts. myriad streams send rushing waters tumbling into the world far … Continue reading Places of Solitude
  51. On the road to Rhodes October 17, 2010 - Exhausted from standing in the burning sun of the Beit Bridge border and dealing with its long-winded officialdom, we stopped only once, for an ice-cold dry lemon at a spaza on the roadside, then pushed on to Bulawayo. In a lay-by a few kilometres south of the city, a horde of hardy Ndebele women were … Continue reading On the road to Rhodes
  52. Little kids and lap-dancing September 5, 2010 - Whether it’s clowns or lions or bearded ladies, everyone fears someone in a circus tent ‘ARE we in grave danger?” asked the woman on the blue plastic seat behind me, her two wide-eyed children climbing into her lap. She was talking about the elephant in the room. Actually, the two elephants. And Lowvelders know their … Continue reading Little kids and lap-dancing
  53. Lost in The Mists of Tom August 22, 2010 - Chris Harvie revisits an old favourite near Sabie and finds a Zimbabwean food fundi. The top of the Long Tom Pass is seemingly always either bathed in sunshine or shrouded in mist. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between option. And atop the top, almost, sits Misty Mountain in an arboretum of a garden where … Continue reading Lost in The Mists of Tom
  54. Scorched sand safari August 15, 2010 - Chris Harvie tours Namibia with his tent and enjoys friendly people, sociable weavers and affordable oysters MAKE no mistake, Namibia is vast. Crossing the frontier at Ariamsvlei, just past Upington, it is sobering to think that this border stretches northwards from here for 1000km in a dead straight line and that this line still only … Continue reading Scorched sand safari
  55. Pilgrim’s Unrest August 8, 2010 - It seems there’s a host of wandering souls in this Mpumalanga town ‘If we are going to be contacted from the other side anywhere in the house, it is likely to be here in Marjery’s room,” said Sherry, our guide. At that point the lights went out. Marjery, Sherry had just explained, had died at … Continue reading Pilgrim’s Unrest
  56. Haven on earth July 14, 2010 - Chris Harvie enjoys the sun, sea and stars (all five of them) at a Hermanus hotel I arrived at The Marine Hotel a bit of a whale-cynic. But never mind the whales. Let’s start, instead, with the Eggs Benedict, a brave dish and a crucial test of any chef’s skill. With soft poached eggs, a … Continue reading Haven on earth
  57. Tribe’s good vibes June 21, 2010 - More and more South Africans are visiting Kenya for both business and pleasure. In the capital, Chris Harvie discovers the perfect hotel I have never been against hobnobbing with big businessmen and ambassadors. Even minor royalty. And they all obviously feel quite at home here. After all, Tribe is a world-class establishment geared to top … Continue reading Tribe’s good vibes
  58. Nobody nose the trouble I’ve seen June 13, 2010 - Karoo camping’s a treat – if you can ignore the things blowin’ in the wind. We are camped outside the hospital in Carnarvon. We are not unwell and this is not the Welsh Caernarvon. Carnarvon is in the middle of the Karoo. It’s an appealing place. Broad, double-laned streets are centred with lines of palms, … Continue reading Nobody nose the trouble I’ve seen
  59. Lamu’s Like That May 25, 2010 - Chris Harvie visits this exotic island off the Kenyan coast to find no cars, little alcohol, but lots of charm IT had been an early start to catch the flight to Malindi, where a three-hour layover was just long enough to get a glimpse of the bottle-blond “glamour” and the pizzas and gelati that make … Continue reading Lamu’s Like That
  60. Firmly on the rails May 16, 2010 - The spelling is weird but the Shosholoza ride sho’ is fun I seriously hope I am not becoming a train nerd – where does one buy an anorak these days? This was my second train trip in two months. I haven’t resorted to writing down loco numbers and I can’t get excited about steerable bogies, … Continue reading Firmly on the rails
  61. A tall story April 11, 2010 - The guide book said ‘a one-hour jaunt’, yet Sir Edmund’s advice would have been not to go at all ‘Are you South African?” an immensely tall woman inquired from high above us as she checked us in. We all agreed that we were. “Then why do you speak English?” she asked. We tried to explain … Continue reading A tall story
  62. Blood, sweat and cheers March 14, 2010 - Chris Harvie investigates two of South Africa’s dry national parks and finds three rivers, one full and two empty, but no leopards. The river runs with my blood and shall henceforth be called the Orange River. I fell off my bicycle crossing a slimy ford in the Augrabies Falls National Park and a few nasty … Continue reading Blood, sweat and cheers
  63. On the road to Nairobi February 28, 2010 - The long journey means a sampling of every form of transport there is A faltering breeze makes no impact on the weighty tropical air. Gazing out over the sand and sipping drinks, it all seems quite simple: we are going to Nairobi. We will take a taxi, then a matatu (minibus taxi), go on foot … Continue reading On the road to Nairobi
  64. A Sweli time was had by all February 14, 2010 - Rousing white wedding was a skop with beers and sweet, fizzy dop. ‘Whoop!” exclaimed the umfundisi, beaming mischievously – glinting eyes and shining teeth in a glowing round face. “Umtshato!” yelled the congregation, also beaming, in response. “Wedding!” And this was not the first time. The good priest brought it on every time he thought … Continue reading A Sweli time was had by all
  65. Walmer and The Carpenters February 7, 2010 - Chris Harvie discovers a true country hotel near the centre of Port Elizabeth. I am always sceptical of hotels that call themselves country lodges when they are blatantly in towns but this was the genuine article, slap in the middle of the leafy Port Elizabeth suburb of Walmer. In place of the usual roar of … Continue reading Walmer and The Carpenters
  66. Spotting the great wail January 17, 2010 - Chris Harvie takes a worthwhile detour to the Samora Machel Monument near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga and finds that all is not what it seems. I don’t know what we had been expecting but it wasn’t this. We had driven eighty kilometres further than we had planned, only to be assailed, when we finally stepped out … Continue reading Spotting the great wail
  67. Waiting for the Windmill wines January 17, 2010 - Chris Harvie discovers that, although Hazyview has yet to produce its own wine, the winegrowers are already serving the menu that will accompany the first bottle. If wine can be produced from grapes grown in Zimbabwe and Tanzania (although the latter’s production from the wine estates around Dodoma leaves much to be desired), why shouldn’t … Continue reading Waiting for the Windmill wines
  68. Trees too, prawns seventeen January 17, 2010 - I had been chased away from the sealed Lebombo border-post by the military, tyres screaming and weapons blazing in the dusty inky dusk on my first visit, more than twenty-five years ago. Nowadays, thanks to the burgeoning tourist numbers on their way to Maputo through the unimaginably slow bureaucratics of the Lebombo border, it’s all … Continue reading Trees too, prawns seventeen
  69. Tree-spotting in Tuscany January 1, 2010 - Chris Harvie finds that all in Tuscany is not as it seems It is wonderful to be back in Tuscany and to wander under a star-speckled sky through streets unchanged in hundreds of years. Scattered on the pavements in front of arched wooden doorways are dozens of chequered tables where revelling diners, blissfully unconcerned for … Continue reading Tree-spotting in Tuscany
  70. Painful Padkos December 13, 2009 - The search for wholesome foods on the road was fruitless We have many great food traditions in South Africa and the second greatest of these is padkos. Those little morsels of sustenance for journeys along our achingly long roads and during desperate hold-ups at the “Average Waiting Time 20 Minutes” signs erected countrywide in anticipation … Continue reading Painful Padkos
  71. Cool Times in the Kroojah November 8, 2009 - “Welcome to Sire-hee-nee Bashvelt Camp, Kroojah” squawked Australian Kelly from the Garmin as we entered the camp. Fed up with the German bloke aggressively instructing us to stay on the agreed route and even the seductive French tones of Stephanie having palled, we had it set the contraption to Australian English (with the screen showing … Continue reading Cool Times in the Kroojah
  72. The smell of the wild November 1, 2009 - The rigours of camping teach us to appreciate all the more the comfort of the daily lives we leave behind. Like so many South Africans, I actively seek uncomfortable journeys. I camp therefore I smell. The more mundane aspects of our lives define us where the extremes provide the tests and there is no more … Continue reading The smell of the wild
  73. Hairy Hippies and Hare Krishnas August 29, 2009 - A minibus emblazoned with the words ‘Bob Marley and the Wailers’ in Rastafarian colours bobbed and wailed before a small crowd. Next to it, congruously or incongruously I couldn’t quite decide stomped six teenagers in oh-so-traditional Zulu dress, including sophisticated anklets made from beer-bottle tops and Checkers packets. Their crowd was bigger than Bob’s and … Continue reading Hairy Hippies and Hare Krishnas
  74. Up Sani Pass without a paddle August 15, 2009 - It seemed a simple-enough plan: climb the Sani Pass in a 4×4, sleep at the top, motor across Lesotho, avoiding the tar, and spend a second night in Nazareth on the western side. But the kingdom in the sky had other plans. The road from Himeville to the mountains is under repair, the pass is … Continue reading Up Sani Pass without a paddle
  75. Butlers and backgammon in the bushveld July 18, 2009 - Chris Harvie lives the high life in the Waterberg and thinks it surprisingly good value. A glinting, slightly wicked smile greets me as I enter my six-bedroom mansion, set in rolling lawns and surrounded by thousands of hectares of game-teeming bush. “The man who makes me doesn’t want me, the man who buys me doesn’t … Continue reading Butlers and backgammon in the bushveld
  76. Some good in tent. Some not so good… June 27, 2009 - Not all campsites are equal. In fact, far from it, as Chris Harvie discovered when he toured the national parks of the Free State, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal Recession-beating tactics are everything these days and what better way to out-manoeuvre the crunch than to dust down the tent, polish the skottel, launder the sleeping bags and … Continue reading Some good in tent. Some not so good…
  77. The Wheel of Life June 1, 2009 - I travel to rekindle our confidence in the goodness of humanity. My greatest fear on any journey is that some crafty miscreant will take me for a ride. Not literally, of course. I am not afraid of being bundled under protest into a tuk-tuk in Mombasa or forced at pole-point onto a mokoro in the … Continue reading The Wheel of Life
  78. Happy Chappy May 17, 2009 - I forfeit bomb-making in Sussex in favour of a fervent clap-along I had picked up four jars of very expensive chutney in Ireland to take along to the lunch. They were confiscated, along with my contact lens solution, at the airport. One of the chutneys, I remember, was gooseberry and kumquat flavour. Apparently bombs are … Continue reading Happy Chappy
  79. O Arthur, where art thou? April 19, 2009 - We wanted knights and a round table, but all we got was some fat French kids and a rectangular pool. We’d heard much about the lure of the Arthurian legends that cling to Tintagel, but they weren’t clinging very hard. The Famous Arthyre Kynge of the Brytons was here begotten in the castle, said the … Continue reading O Arthur, where art thou?
  80. Cooking in the wind March 29, 2009 - Chris Harvie visits a cherished SA chef in her blustery home town and cooks his own dinner. Chefs are renowned for being tricky. Some pretend to be naked and turn out to be fully clothed, some swear a lot and some aren’t really chefs at all but TV presenters. Suzi Holtzhausen is one of South … Continue reading Cooking in the wind
  81. Taking stock of the Karoo March 8, 2009 - Don’t always trust a British ambassador when it comes to breakfast. I had been recommended, by the former British ambassador to somewhere or other, to visit The Apollo Theatre in Victoria-West for the best breakfast on earth. So, of course, I did. One must obey British ambassadors. Even former ones to who- knows-where. It was, … Continue reading Taking stock of the Karoo
  82. When the soldiers go marching in February 15, 2009 - Alan Weyer’s telling stories in the City of Saints, writes Chris Harvie. We passed the Big Pineapple but we didn’t linger. I made a note that it was 16.7m high, and therefore 0.7m taller than its paltry Australian equivalent, and we moved on in search of a pub. At the Bathurst Arms, I scribbled that, … Continue reading When the soldiers go marching in
  83. Jacques of the Bushveld January 11, 2009 - Chris Harvie travels to the Waterberg for some lessons from a thought-provoking ranger. The real Bushveld begins at Vaalwater, or so I was told by the helpful manager of The Black Mamba, one of the world’s greatest shops. Jock was thus not really from the Bushveld at all. In fact, for the purist, the Bushveld … Continue reading Jacques of the Bushveld
  84. Karoo in your Kitchen January 11, 2009 - Chris Harvie looks at SA’s ‘best local cuisine cookbook’ Prickly Pears & Pomegranates By Bernadette le Roux and Marianne Palmer Publisher: Quivertree Publications (Also published in Afrikaans as Marmelade & Moerkoffie). R330. Compiled and written by the daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Eve Palmer, author of The Plains of Camdeboo, this 220-page hardcover demonstrates that the … Continue reading Karoo in your Kitchen
  85. Die Nyl: A source of confusion December 7, 2008 - Intrepid and hung over, our explorers set out to find the South African root of the world’s longest river. A few years ago on a more responsible voyage, at Jinja, on Lake Victoria in Uganda, my fellow travellers and I had questioned that town’s absurd claim that it was home to the source of the … Continue reading Die Nyl: A source of confusion
  86. It’s all Coming up Rosendal November 16, 2008 - Don’t mention Clarens to people who’ve settled here warns Chris Harvie “You do know that this is Chris van Niekerk’s shop, don’t you?” the strict-sounding-but-friendly blonde Tannie asked me as I walked in. Fortunately I did. Somebody in Rosendal had already explained to me that Chris van Niekerk is the most important living person in … Continue reading It’s all Coming up Rosendal
  87. The End of the Rodent September 14, 2008 - I ate a guinea pig on the shores of Lake Titicaca. In fact, by the time it had been clumsily split from top to tail with a cleaver, I scored slightly less then half a guinea pig, a chunk of rib-cage plus half the head, consisting of one eye socket, a crispy bit of broken … Continue reading The End of the Rodent
  88. The steaks were too high August 24, 2008 - South Africans love their meat, but they can’t hold a braai-coal to the Argentines. An articulated juggernaut carrying 30 large steers led us from the airport into Buenos Aires. It was four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and kids screamed up and down the verges on bikes and quads, oblivious to the passing truck and … Continue reading The steaks were too high
  89. Three’s a charm June 22, 2008 - “It is good to see you in the dark,” was our cryptic evening welcome from Omri Nene, a Zulu named after a Biblical king. The original Omri became king by the choice of the people of Gibbethon after the smiting (by Omri, I think) of Zimri. It’s not a common Zulu name, but then Omri … Continue reading Three’s a charm
  90. Stairway to Hell June 15, 2008 - It’s hard to have an obvious limp when the story behind it is so excruciating. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. In fact, it is so unlikely that it has probably never even cropped up in most people’s nightmares but it can happen. Especially to drinkers. I remember laughing like a drain when a friend dropped a … Continue reading Stairway to Hell
  91. Jelly babies come in all colours June 1, 2008 - She wobbled on her swivel chair like an enraged blackcurrant-flavoured jelly baby. “Why are you travelling together? Going to a party in England, you say? No. I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. You two white ones can go but you other three wait behind.” She wouldn’t listen to my explanations. “Shut up, white … Continue reading Jelly babies come in all colours
  92. Good oaks and good okes May 11, 2008 - Chris Harvie reserves judgement on students, but gives Stellies the thumbs up. I had always thought that Stellenbosch was a lot of fuss about nothing. A few gabled buildings but not enough. Pavement dining but grim weather. Distant people and too many students. It took me only three trips around the road system at the … Continue reading Good oaks and good okes
  93. An Undeserving Charity Case April 20, 2008 - Plenty to beef about at a hotel school charity dinner Deep in Central South Africa my presence is required at a charity feast created by the students of the local catering college as part of the practical work required for their year-end exams. I am scared. I haven’t been faced with a more terrifying ordeal … Continue reading An Undeserving Charity Case
  94. Old world charm in the Berg April 13, 2008 - Chris Harvie finds good trout and faded baronial at the Himeville Arms We had watched the sun go down over the Sani Pass from a gyrocopter, sweeping low over the eland, the trout dams and the pilot’s ex-wife’s farmhouse, with suitable waving and taunting and had spectacularly previewed the Himeville Arms earlier from the air. … Continue reading Old world charm in the Berg
  95. Skiing with Yaks in Scotland April 6, 2008 - Chris Harvie braves boring bison, bad food and blustery winds to ski in the Scottish Highlands We were looking at a small mixed herd of yak and bison standing in a miserable pool of muddy sleet. They didn’t look happy, but then I don’t imagine bison ever look happy. Yackety-yak. At the entrance gate, an … Continue reading Skiing with Yaks in Scotland
  96. A Mansion at the Point March 1, 2008 - Chris Harvie discovers a Cape Town hotel which offers the perfect city escape, for a man from Hazyview The smell of old wood and roses assaulted me. What a happy change from plastic and plywood. Winchester Mansions in Sea Point looks from the outside like a town hall in Belgium and from the inside like … Continue reading A Mansion at the Point
  97. Happy days in Harare February 16, 2008 - Chris Harvie travels to the Zimbabwean capital where dollar millionaires can barely afford to buy bread, but keep on smiling anyway. This wasn’t Johannesburg, was it? We arrived at a completed, modern international airport with friendly, efficient customs and immigration officers and driveable trolleys. The lights were all working, the people were smiling, there wasn’t … Continue reading Happy days in Harare
  98. Talking Italian January 27, 2008 - Chris Harvie discovers a truly Roman restaurant in Cape Town’s Waterfront Roberto (not De Niro) was waiting, talking Italian. He showed us to our table and led us through the menu, rattling off all the melanzanes and rotolos and radicchios with the indigenous skill of the Lazio-born and then said, in English, “Close your eyes … Continue reading Talking Italian
  99. Touring the Hole Country December 9, 2007 - Chris Harvie finds that the roads in South Africa are being opened up at every turn. Long road trips spark strange thoughts. I have just filled up in Colesberg and given the pump jockey R5 when I start one of those ludicrous calculations: If I drive about five thousand kilometres a month and I fill … Continue reading Touring the Hole Country
  100. Prawn again in Maputo December 9, 2007 - When the Komatipoort border reopened in the 1990s after the Civil War, we Lowvelders were invited to Maputo to take part in a culinary competition. The list of items to bring with us puzzlingly included ‘one lemon between two’ which was to be cut in half and used for bath plugs. Such luxuries were not … Continue reading Prawn again in Maputo
  101. A Twist of Fete September 20, 2007 - Hippo, a bald-shaven bulldog, was towing along two ten-year old Barbie lookalikes, their hair dyed (temporarily) pink. They were holding Hippo’s string in one hand and a collecting tin for the Cheshire Homes in the other. Everywhere you go in England somebody is trying to give you something you don’t want (a free newspaper, a … Continue reading A Twist of Fete
  102. Cracking da Coffee Code September 16, 2007 - Charles II tried without success to ban coffeehouses in London on the grounds (no pun intended) that they were ‘places where the disaffected met and spread scandalous reports concerning His Majesty and his Ministers’. By 1739, fewer than 50 years after his death, there were over 550 of them. Now every fourth shop-front houses coffee. … Continue reading Cracking da Coffee Code
  103. A great Lowveld Tale July 22, 2007 - She bills herself, very misleadingly, as the naked chef. Admittedly there was an unseasonably chilly Lowveld wind the night we were there, which would have carved an edge to any nudity, but, with Cindy’s regretful clothes firmly on, things were cooking anyway. “My vissie is dood” came the SMS to one of my dining companions’ … Continue reading A great Lowveld Tale
  104. What’s good for the goose July 19, 2007 - Chris Harvie falls for the food of Franschhoek, but finds that his accommodation is hardly worth a mention. There are many so-called manor houses in Franschhoek but this one was shoddy to say the least. They know who they are, four stars, no underblankets, diluted shampoo, tangles of disconnected wires sticking out of the kitchen … Continue reading What’s good for the goose
  105. The last gasp July 15, 2007 - Judging from the FATHERS’ DAY JAZZ announced on a board outside the front door and the twenty-odd empty beer kegs lying outside The Shepherd’s Crook, I am sorry to have missed the party. Two weeks after Fathers’ Day they are still obviously clearing up the debris. Unless, of course, the mess is the fallout from … Continue reading The last gasp
  106. ‘Tis the tribal season June 8, 2007 - Daisies, fruiting trees, car bombs and road kill are the signs of an English summer. A howling gale and black clouds, with occasional hot sun that breaks through and makes you want to strip down to your boxers and splash around in the puddles on the roadside, more precisely tell you that it is Wimbledon … Continue reading ‘Tis the tribal season
  107. The inside out Chicken June 3, 2007 - In the land of the head-turning owl, the half-brained chicken is king. Lucky the chicken is testament to this, having survived a mauling by Spooky the dog wherein he suffered a partial lobotomy. Chickens, as Lucky would probably be the first to admit, were he not even more brainless than the average, are not bright … Continue reading The inside out Chicken
  108. A taste of the Garden Route May 20, 2007 - Nature’s Valley was once a Broederbond hangout (not to be confused with Beau Valley for Naturists which was a let-it-all-hang-out) so there are, inevitably from such highfalutin origins, some house-names to be conjured with. Try these for size, the timber-clad Casa Planca, the esoteric Laat-waai-Meraai and the inevitable Kostaplentie. Nature’s Valley attracts a mixture of … Continue reading A taste of the Garden Route
  109. Legacy: A work in progress May 6, 2007 - On 26th January 2007, South Africa lost one of its greatest fans, one its greatest heroes and one if its greatest ambassadors, all wrapped in the one form of that splendidly spellbinding storyteller David Rattray. The tale of the crime has already covered enough newspaper inches so now we can allow ourselves to go beyond … Continue reading Legacy: A work in progress
  110. Finding the plot April 22, 2007 - I had been in the Traffic Department in White River for several hours when the chap five in front of me left and wished me “sterkte” on his way out. I knew then that I was in for the long haul. When the mielie lady from Madam and Eve arrived and started touting her wares … Continue reading Finding the plot
  111. England without defect April 15, 2007 - St Petersburg, Russia, or Reading, Berkshire? It would have been a tricky choice even in the dark days of Leningrad, USSR, but I still think that Reading might not have won the day. I was in the middle of an earth-shatteringly sound performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor (Opus 30) by … Continue reading England without defect
  112. No escape goat March 8, 2007 - Popular opinion had it, and I knew this to be the popular opinion because I had been for a haircut, that the floods of vehicles in the Karoo were heading for the Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn. The previous week, however, when there was no flood but a dribble, they had been heading, as I had, for … Continue reading No escape goat
  113. Wild and woolly on the mohair route March 8, 2007 - Mrs Ball, you have been outdone. For all the fact that you have recently extended your range of chutneys (from the Hindi catni, a condiment), you cannot come close to the range of blatjang (from the Malay belachan, a condiment) available at the Noorsveld Farmstall. They’ve got Beet Chutney, Citrus Chutney, Tomato, Sweet Tomato, Fig, … Continue reading Wild and woolly on the mohair route
  114. Hands in March 7, 2007 - What is the capital of Tanzania? Wrong! It’s Dodoma, a quirky country town right at the geographical centre of the country and with a population of 325,000, compared with almost ten times that number in its predecessor as capital. Dar es Salaam lost the title to this country bumpkin in the mid-1970’s after a referendum. … Continue reading Hands in
  115. The Trans-Karoo cross-hound February 11, 2007 - Sport turned 119 (7=17) on 5th November last year. Every dog has his day and this was Sport’s, but there were no fireworks. Not even a small bonfire. Sport is a low-key kind of Corgi-Staffie-cross. I, who turned 294 years old last birthday and am something of a Methuselah in dog terms, gave him an … Continue reading The Trans-Karoo cross-hound
  116. A chokka shocker February 7, 2007 - Most South Africans have never actually been to Port Elizabeth. Frankly, like Australia, it seems an awfully long way away and possibly not very advanced. I’d driven through it on the freeway a couple of times but finally, in search of things that we just can’t get in Graaff-Reinet (like a toast-rack, for example, without … Continue reading A chokka shocker
  117. A nation of shopkeepers February 4, 2007 - Forget poached, scrambled or fried. Would you like homogenised, organic, Omega E or free-range eggs? Now please choose between Colombian Blacktail, Burford Brown, or Old Cotswold St Leger. And you can have Straw-bedded, Barn, Woodland or Economy. Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer quails’ eggs or duck eggs, white eggs or double-yolkers? To even the … Continue reading A nation of shopkeepers
  118. Decking the halls in Hazyview January 14, 2007 - And so that was Christmas. And this is another of those thank-goodness-it’s-all-over pieces combined with one of those why-do-we-always-have-to-moan-about-Christmas articles. Christmas in the Lowveld was hot. Staggeringly hot. And it didn’t rain until it rained. And then it really, really rained. 100mm in two one-hour downfalls. And everything washed away faster than any hopes England … Continue reading Decking the halls in Hazyview
  119. Down Williston way December 24, 2006 - The Williston Hotel wears its one star proudly, on a plaque outside the door. It wears, equally proudly, a certificate stating that it serves wine by the glass. There are old sewing machines, leather suitcases and hatboxes, wooden kists, old tins and tea-chests. ‘Hotel California’ is playing in the bar. We’d been driving through the … Continue reading Down Williston way
  120. A farm so fare December 17, 2006 - FARM FARE Church Street, Graaff-Reinet, Tel (049) 892 3212 I scoured the area around Graaff-Reinet for a padstal. There had to be one. I drove in every direction on the roads to Pearston, to Jansenville, to Goliatskloof, all place-names with stories attached (especially Goliatskloof). Graaff-Reinet was, it appeared, a giant of a place, but no … Continue reading A farm so fare
  121. A little light relief December 17, 2006 - Graaff-Reinet is gearing itself up for Christmas – so much so that you’d almost notice. The girls in Clicks were wearing Santa hats this morning and I am sure I spotted some tinsel on the shelves in Spar, but so far nothing on the tills, hanging from the ceilings or dangling tantalising over the Karoo … Continue reading A little light relief
  122. Long Beach, California? No, This is Namibia November 12, 2006 - I ran over a cormorant, accidentally, as it tried to make its way, flying rather low I thought, from the desert side to the sea side of the Trans-Kalahari highway, as I turned off to Long Beach, half-way between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. There is a rank smell of seaweed and a dead seal lies … Continue reading Long Beach, California? No, This is Namibia
  123. Getting Your Chambo Right October 29, 2006 - Lake Malawi’s best-known fish, the chambo, is a cichlid (now there’s a good word for a spelling test) and its numbers are dwindling horribly through over-fishing. It is unlucky enough to be both edible and colourful and is thus popular both for plate and tank. A tough call as to which is the crueller fate. … Continue reading Getting Your Chambo Right
  124. Flowers to Vleisfees October 22, 2006 - I don’t really do flowers. I could walk into a room full of dead flowers and not notice – and I felt the same about veld-flowers until I saw Namaqualand. We were there in a good year. That was the talk at the bar of the rather alarming Masonic Hotel in Springbok, along with the … Continue reading Flowers to Vleisfees
  125. A colour-blind South African October 1, 2006 - It’s good to be home. Or is it? I have always been pleased to return home to South Africa. In fact I have been known, embarrassingly, to kiss the tarmac at Johannesburg International (regardless of the political colour of its eponymous historical leader) on reaching the bottom of the steps from the plane. But after … Continue reading A colour-blind South African
  126. Fit for a Queen September 3, 2006 - As readers are no doubt aware Freddie Mercury would have turned 60 years old in September this year, had he survived to see it. It is a mind-bending exercise to hazard a guess as to what the diva might have chosen from his wardrobe as he headed out to join the party planned for Saturday … Continue reading Fit for a Queen
  127. Going bananas in Tanzania August 13, 2006 - It seemed that we had arrived in the Usambara Mountains in the middle of the harvest festival. From every hilltop and slope, every shamba and stream of this misty range in NW Tanzania there poured forth fresh produce. A tantalising sight for these dust-choked travellers from the South. The capital of the region, Lushoto, was … Continue reading Going bananas in Tanzania
  128. The Great Escape November 1, 2005 - December is a time of demographic shift in the Lowveld. The population of Bushbuckridge doubles. Toll plazas on the N4 sport queues of Gautengers and Vrystaaters heading for the National Kruger Wild Garden. The Lowveld is seething with aliens. So what does the Lowvelder do? He vats his goed, treks away from Ferreira Street and … Continue reading The Great Escape
  129. The Lowveld has it all (but we are happy to share) May 1, 2005 - We Lowvelders know, without a glimmer of doubt, that we live in the best part of South Africa. There is a ring about being a Lowvelder – so much more meaningful than being a Gautenger or a Capie. We were never Vaalies. Vaalies were the other Transvaalers… As naturally hospitable people, Lowvelders can easily identify … Continue reading The Lowveld has it all (but we are happy to share)
  130. Who has been drinking in my pub May 1, 2005 - Take the Hysterical Hornbill, in Hazyview, for example. Youth chic meets artisan in overalls. Or The Keg and Jock, in Nelspruit, where urban sports fan drinks alongside governmental gravy train passengers. Or Bagdad Café, in White River – the Old Lowveld looks askance, across its glass of Sauvignon Blanc, at the khaki-clad Land Rover jockey. … Continue reading Who has been drinking in my pub
  131. South Africa Revisited January 1, 2004 - About ten years ago I wrote an article, for this prestigious publication, on the transition of South Africa. Ten years on, in celebration of visits to South Africa, simultaneously, by an Aldro Cricket Tour, by the new Headmaster and by one of Aldro’s most dedicated Old Aldronians, Mr James Geffen, I have been asked by … Continue reading South Africa Revisited
  132. South Africa in transition January 1, 1995 - South Africa is a country of extremes; never has the mere name of country awakened such diverse reactions when uttered; and never has a country undergone such rapid change, so peacefully and with such dignity. But then South Africans have always had an innate gift for the dramatic, if not the melodramatic – and this … Continue reading South Africa in transition

Author and Freelance Travel Writer